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How to know if it's a break, sprain or strain

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  • Written By: Felicia Messimer
How to know if it's a break, sprain or strain

When it comes to an injury, it can often be easy to shake it off, and keep on going. But when it comes to breaks, sprains and strains, the longer you ignore them, the longer they can take to heal.

You might think, “it’s just a sprain” when in fact, it’s a strain or break. The urgent care providers at the Campbell County Medical Group Walk-In Clinic in Gillette, Wyoming can provide you with the x-rays and referrals to the orthopedic care and rehabilitation that you need to pinpoint your injury, and get you back on your feet in no time.

So how do you know if your injury is more than just a slight twist, and should be looked at? Check out these tips below.

A joint sprain occurs when you overstretch or tear ligaments. Sprain and strain symptoms are often very similar, but one of the main ways to know if it’s a sprain—and not a strain—is when there’s bruising around the area. Sprains are also listed by three grades:

  • Grade 1 (moderate sprains): These occur when there is light stretching of the ligament with slight damage to the fibers.
  • Grade 2 (mild sprains): Are from partial tearing of the ligament. With a grade 2 sprain, there is noticeable looseness with the movement of the joint.
  • Grade 3 (severe sprains): A complete tearing of the ligament. A grade 3 sprain will leave you with a nonfunctional joint and severe instability.

A joint strain is caused by overstretching and/or tearing of a muscle or tendons. Connecting muscle to bone, the most commonly injured tendons are often the hamstrings and lower back.

When it comes to breaks, it’s all in the sound. If you heard a snap or grinding noise when the injury occurred, it’s likely a break. If you have trouble putting pressure on the area or it’s swollen and/or severely bruised, it could very well be a break. And, you may even get a little nauseous.

With proper prevention, you can avoid an unnecessary sprain, strain or break. Being in shape, properly stretching before workouts, and being knowledgeable of how to properly use your exercise equipment is vital.

Even with prevention, injuries still can occur. Our Walk-in Clinic can provide you with the care you need, to ensure your sprain, strain or simple fracture is treated. Our Walk-in Clinic is open 365 days a year, seven days a week to help with urgent injuries and non life-threating illnesses; no appointment needed. And you can save your place in line at

  • Category: Campbell County Medical Group Walk-In Clinic & Occupational Health, Emergency Department, Wyoming Orthopedics & Spine, Campbell County Medical Group clinic, Radiology, Rehabilitation Services, Wellness